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News Release

Date: 3/10/2006

Innovative partnership could set new standard for supporting Community Health Centers

MESA, Ariz. – A.T. Still University is currently developing a partnership with the nation’s Community Health Centers (CHC) that would provide staff and training to CHCs in Arizona and nationwide. Under the agreement, ATSU is working to develop and establish a new osteopathic medical school on its Mesa, Arizona, campus.

According to a report written by Julie Rovner of NPR News, federal budget cuts proposed by President Bush could threaten the nation’s CHCs, which are government-sponsored programs that provide medical service regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. Specifically, the budgetary decisions would decrease federal support for programs that support the training of primary care physicians to work in medically underserved areas in the United States. One prominent study predicts a shortfall of 200,000 primary care physicians by the year 2020.

The pending physician shortage could exacerbate efforts of the CHC safety-net to improve the health status of underserved communities. CHCs anticipate a need to hire an additional 14,000 physicians by 2020 and are partnering with ATSU to identify, educate, and train high quality, community-minded physicians.

Gary Cloud, Ph.D., director of Advancement, said the agreement could help address the imminent physician shortage and keep CHCs operating at necessary levels.

“This school is under development at the request of, and in partnership with, the national CHC movement,” said Dr. Cloud. “Attracting high quality, community-minded primary care physicians is their greatest issue.”

Dr. Cloud also said that with the prospect of budgetary challenges in training the types of physician needed to work at a CHC, ATSU’s partnership and future ones like it will become even more important.

“Pending market forces could challenge the existence of the nation’s safety net just at a time when it is being considered the nation’s model for some sort of system,” Dr. Cloud said. “Reduced health professions manpower efforts on the part of the federal government would only increase the critical importance of this partnership.”

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Home of the world’s first osteopathic medical school, the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, A.T. Still University is at the forefront of whole person healthcare education. It boasts the nation’s newest – and Arizona’s first – dental school, the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health, offers online health management training programs through its School of Health Management, and trains healthcare professionals in several allied health fields through the Arizona School of Health Sciences in Mesa, Arizona.